History of Cinema Mariano Llinás May 2021 What Will Become of Cinema? Postcards for the Future Issue 98 Translated from the Argentinian Spanish by Gabriella Munoz We have done well We revealed to the world the selenites, so fragile they turn to dust with one blow we portrayed the workers proudly marching out from the factories (before us, that place was reserved only for armies) we saw cities grow upwards and one of us, even climbed a building to make the multitude laugh. We were there too when the giant monkey climbed the Empire State and from there, punch-drunk in love, faced the planes. Who else but us could have dealt with those things? Planes skyscrapers automobiles Modern life turned into a dance, or a circus show We did that (We’ve always liked skyscrapers The Pirelli Tower in Milan, which Antonioni shows At the beginning of La notte, it only misses King Kong: it’s not necessary anymore. It’s already there, like a whirlpool, like the two at the end of L’eclisse) We also followed children through the cities’ ruins through the bombings (no one better than children to move amidst the rubble) we saw the ruins of Berlin of Rome but also of Koker after the earthquake (there, again, a tiny car did the work that, before us, would be done by Eleonora Duse or Sarah Bernhardt) and we understood that sometimes, more than people talking on a stage it’s better to see them gaze. Stare in silence. That was our talisman: show people staring, showing what they looked at. The horizon The rocky hills of Colorado and Utah The smile of a girl at the beach At sunrise (a smile that says things Marcello doesn’t understand because of the distance, or the sea clamour: there’s nothing to understand, Marcello it’s just a smile Just the girl it’s la pura niña, la pura sonrisa, like they say in Chile) we did that a woman at the cinema cries watching Joan of Arc another climbs the slope of a volcano erupting: our Saints and our martyrs fall pierced by bullets zigzagging the streets, all the way to the end of the road death turns them into inebriated clowns that fall, endless like John Wayne in Liberty Valance, heartbroken then, his dead is a box and a cactus. We’ll never see John Wayne dead But Fonda, Fonda dies in a cloud of dust The apaches pass by and when they are gone he is already dead (before that, he would apologise to his men and Ward Bond has replied ‘save it for your grandchildren,’ which is a way of saying ‘fuck you’) The Indians fall dead One shot while the horses keep on running they fall dead, the Indians and later, at the end of the day somebody pays them for their deaths five dollars each Fassbinder’s dead men have no blood The fat lady in Strangers on a Train lets herself be strangled as if it were a game samurai swords kill with one blow, one single line as if it were a presidential sash or a football shirt while Errol Flynn makes us watch two hours of bullshit so that, at the end, we attend the miracle of him, brandishing his sword for ten minutes. How many we have killed and how beautifully! We’ve been luckier in violence than in love Although the bride that wakes up after her first night in a barge going down the impassive rivers, in the fog between poplars that look like ghosts it is – and here I speak for myself – more exquisite than the anonymous cry heard by Madame Bovary when they found out that he has a lover. And if our vision of love has been somewhat naïve it must be said we invented kissing What was of the kiss before cinema? Have you thought about it? Not Fragonard not Botticelli (not even Klimt) have hit the bullseye, had understood what to do with it and us, just like that, found there the mot de passe of physical love the secret number that any second-rate director was capable of achieving (no need to be Klimt nor Botticelli) and everyone understood everyone would attend such an erotic pirouette it was never necessary to show intercourse (What for? Two intertwined mouths were enough sometimes in the battle, sometimes sweetly always like in an act of beautiful violence I’ll tell you about my favourite Cary Grant, the thief, has spent all night sitting at the table of Grace Kelly and her mother. They have drunk champagne the old woman is an American millionaire, who doesn’t stop celebrating Cary like only an old American millionaire can afford Grace, in turn, nothing cold indifferent miles away doesn’t even see him follows that game Cary walks them – first the mother – to their bedrooms, in that same hotel. Walks next to Grace the few metres that lead to her bedroom and, there, Grace gives him a final kiss an unexpected kiss, that seems to contain all Erotica universalis a kiss that seems to hold the desire of all the lovers of all the men and women in the world and that she gives it on their behalf like a priestess or a Virgin) All that we’ve done since we broke into the scene, there were no princes no more heroes, no more glory only us and even Hitler, to get attention, had (perhaps unconsciously) to look like Chaplin and all the innocents he killed in his gas chambers served no purpose since in California, safe from their armies and bombs the Jewish from Berlin, from Vienna, from Belarus his enemies had already build their homeland one homeland where there was no jail only the sheltering darkness and the light of the screen that shines a homeland to where Fritz Lang had fled when Goebbels wanted to catch him giving him little less than the Wehrmacht Who needs the Wehrmacht who needs Goebbels? who needs Thea Von Harbou who needs all that shit when you have Lubitsch? We’ve done enough, yes (and it’s not because I’m trying to sound like Godard that I permit myself this enumeration. More, I would say, Stevenson In those poems he thinks of lighthouses the towers built by his elders by generations of Stevensons for over a century and he smiles content satisfied even though he doesn’t build lighthouses the lighthouses are there and him, somehow is a part of that) Me too. I caught the train without paying the ticket, like an enemy once told me. He was right. But now, with or without a ticket I’m on the train and I like the landscape I see through the window the light illuminating the fields the small towns spread all over the outskirts the barnyards the abandoned houses the empty buildings the backside of things and that whistle that I heard in the distance when I was a child that made me think of Places afar, in the night that whistle Now it’s me, sometimes a few nights a year who makes it sound. We’ve done enough, then. Specially you: I barely smoke cigars like Welles and repeat a few tricks to keep it up but you, well: Le donne I cavalier le Arme gli amori Le cortesie l’audace imprese io canto That’s what you did. What we did the world gave us that task, for a while at least I believe we have accomplished. Congratulations, mates. It’s so beautiful to be next to you, to fight for your side entertaining the just tricking the despots and pulling the mask out of the phonies! What a beautiful war, my brothers We’ll be here as long they let us.